The Honorable Sasha Baker, Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, made her first visit to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, September 13, 2023.
For her first trip in this role, Baker prioritized visiting DPAA to meet anthropologists and other staff who provided on-the-ground recovery support following the Maui fires. She shared her gratitude to the team for their rapid response following this tragic event, as well as DPAA’s critical everyday work in service of our nation.
During her visit, Baker learned more about the recovery efforts and the world-wide reach and mission of DPAA to provide the fullest possible accounting for missing personnel to their families and the nation. In addition to U.S. personnel, DPAA assists our allies and partners in recovering their missing.
“There’s a real push to expand collaboration and networking with the Pacific Island countries,” said Baker. “That is where DPAA is doing significant work – amplifying the mission for others to see.”
DPAA is largely seen across the globe as a humanitarian mission. This allows the organization's recovery teams access to otherwise limited-access locations, providing the opportunity for U.S. members to continuously forge new connections and partnerships world-wide.
Principal Deputy Director for DPAA Fern Sumpter Winbush had the opportunity to showcase the organization's current capabilities and accomplishments. She also highlighted how the growing pool of countries in which DPAA is authorized to conduct missions has expanded the need for additional country-specific policies, funding, personnel, and equipment to keep up with DPAA’s vital reach.
“The importance of DPAA is not only that it provides answers to the families of the missing,” said Baker, “but also the immense international outreach in areas that we may not otherwise have access to in an official capacity.”